Here it is again, the week before Super Bowl. And the young (and not so young) men in our household are already plotting their Super Bowl snack buffet. “Can we have dip? Wings? Those little cheese thingies?” “Sure” I reply amiably—happy to oblige and partake right along with them.
You’ve probably never heard of Frank and Teressa Bellissimo. Maybe you’ve heard of The Anchor Bar? (Hint: It’s in upstate New York) And yes, it was a dark and stormy night (maybe) —sometime back in the 1960s when Teressa Bellissimo is reputed to have created one of the most popular flavors in the western world—Buffalo sauce—to dress up some chicken wings. Yes, it all started with the wings—as we all know—and it has gotten to the point that there are not only wings, but also all kinds of buffalo stuff like fingers, zingers, popcorn, pizza, and even dip! If you Google Buffalo Chicken Dip—you will get a whole big list of tips and recipes. But the beauty of this flavor is that it is really pretty simple: a vinegary-cayenne pepper and butter hot sauce is the base and while the traditional pairing is blue cheese and celery—ranch dressing and carrots are pretty good too.
So today’s recipe is my version of Buffalo Chicken Dip. This year, I’m going to Buffalo the dip and Teriyaki the wings—next year, who knows?
My kids are Ranch dressing aficionados, but if I were making this for myself, I might be tempted to sprinkle some crumbled blue cheese on top before baking. And, you really don’t have to bake this, it is good hot or cold, but we prefer it baked on a cold winter’s day. I’ll offer two “dippers”, celery fans (see below) and French bread toasts that I buy in our supermarket.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
Makes about 3 cups
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Oven Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
2 cups of cooked chicken, finely chopped
½ cup Buffalo wing sauce (any brand you like)
1 cup finely chopped celery
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 8 oz package cream cheese (reduced fat is fine), softened
1 cup Ranch dressing
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil; add the chopped celery and cook, stirring frequently, until the celery is softened.
In a large bowl, mix together the celery with all of the other ingredients and transfer the mixture to a small baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until heated through. Serve with celery fans, toasts, tortillas or ay other dippers that you like.
My problem with plain old celery sticks is that if they’re too long, and you dip them—one bite—and you have two-thirds of your celery left and you can’t double-dip—yuck! So, to make a bite size dipper that keeps fingers out of the dip, these are worth doing because they are just the right size and they look festive.
To make them, fill a bowl halfway with very cold water. Cut the celery stalks into 2-inch pieces. Using a small knife, slice half of each piece into slivers and then put it into the bowl of water. After a few minutes, the cut ends will curl into fans. Drain on paper towels before serving.